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Suspected creator of 'ILOVEYOU' virus chats online

Onel de Guzman
Filipino computer student Onel A. de Guzman appears at a news conference in May 2000  

(CNN) -- Onel de Guzman, the suspected creator of the "ILOVEYOU" virus that struck computers around the world in May, reveals that he considers himself a computer programmer and just wants to learn. He believes denial-of-service attacks should be illegal, but feels that software companies should be more aware of any security vulnerabilities.

CNN Host: Welcome to the CNN chatroom, Onel De Guzman.

Onel De Guzman: Hi, everyone! Sorry for being late!

CNN Host: Question from: [What] What programming language did Onel start on and where did he learn it?

Onel De Guzman: GW-Basic in a parochial school.

CNN Host: Question from: [Hmmmm] Do you think there should be laws against creating a virus versus distributing it?


Onel De Guzman: I don't think so... it would limit programmers. I don't agree that there should be a law against creating a virus. That would limit the programmers in their creativity.

CNN Host: Question from: [Ah] When did you create your first program?

Onel De Guzman: It was written in GW-Basic in 1990. It was a joke program. CNN Host: Do you consider yourself a hacker?

Onel De Guzman: I am not a hacker; I am a programmer.

CNN Host: Question from: [There] What do you think a virus writer's motivation is?

Onel De Guzman: They want to learn. They want to be creative.

CNN Host: Question from: [Manay] what was the joke program about?

Onel De Guzman: It was a game, like tic-tac-toe. When you won, a message came up with animated graphics.

CNN Host: Question from: [Hmmmm] Of what practical use is a virus (besides the damage potential)? And I don't mean Trojans (remote control).

Onel De Guzman: You will add to your programming skills and you are learning.

CNN Host: Question from: [wolfy] What if that virus caused serious monetary damage, should the creator be held accountable?

Onel De Guzman: The liability should lie in the hands of the software developers that come out with programs that are defective.

CNN Host: Why does programming fascinate you so much?

Onel De Guzman: Simple. It's a challenge. Every time I use a computer, I'm challenged.

CNN Host: Question from: [Mr_Imune] Am I correct in assuming that e-mail viruses are totally harmless in any primitive e-mail program that does not support a scripting language or open attachments automatically?

Onel De Guzman: No, you're not immune. If it is a pure text e-mail program, then no program can be attached. When e-mail gets the ability to have programs attached to it, then it's vulnerable.

CNN Host: Question from: [Aneko] Do you realize the destruction and agony you caused with your "joke" program?

Onel De Guzman: I myself have received programs like these, and I feel challenged to learn about these programs. I think others should also be challenged to learn.

CNN Host: Question from: [Guest30360] Do you regret the damage the virus has caused?

Onel De Guzman: There seems to be some assumption behind that question. I'd rather not answer that.

CNN Host: Question from: [Hate-Ur-VBSHack] How can you say software developers should be held liable for security holes they might not anticipate? (Of course with this virus Microsoft's VBS tie-in was a BIG hole.)

Onel De Guzman: They should be aware of these vulnerabilities. The software makers are aware of these vulnerabilities and they release the products anyway because they want to make money.

CNN Host: Question from: [Manay] Do you think it's possible to come up with a program that is fully secure?

Onel De Guzman: It's possible. Look at Linux.

CNN Host: Onel De Guzman joins us from the Philippines; is providing a typist for him. He is participating with the assistance of a translator. Do you have any hope of working legally in the telecommunications or tech industries?

Onel De Guzman: In May or June I was offered jobs, but didn't pay attention to those offers. I don't think I'll be getting any more right now. I just want to study.

CNN Host: Many of our audience members are asking why he and others in his hacking groups cannot learn more constructively.

Onel De Guzman: Writing a virus is more challenging if you want to learn programming.

CNN Host: Question from: [anoncoward] Why not write open-source projects instead for example?

Onel De Guzman: It's hard to write open-source programs in a world that dominated by proprietary programs, such as those put out by Microsoft. Programs like Microsoft's are already vulnerable as they are. If they were to become open source they would become even more vulnerable.

CNN Host: If it is hard to write open source, why aren't you challenged by that?

Onel De Guzman: In open source, all the information is there. There's not much challenge.

CNN Host: Question from: [rb] why not come up with a program that would protect rather than destroy? Is this not more challenging?

Onel De Guzman: Before you write protective programs, you have to find out what the vulnerabilities are and expose them.

CNN Host: Onel De Guzman joins us from the Philippines; is providing a typist for him. He is participating with the assistance of a translator.

Onel De Guzman: Without any programs that expose the vulnerabilities of them then you couldn't write any security programs for them.

CNN Host: Question from: [Ricky] How old are you, Onel? What job or career do you look forward to?

Onel De Guzman: I am 24 years old. I want to be an operating systems developer.

CNN Host: Question from: [Gator] "Should email propagation code and Denial of Service attack code be illegal as they merely exploit features of the systems involved?"

Onel De Guzman: I think it should be illegal.

CNN Host: Do you have any final thoughts for us?

Onel De Guzman: If I may have done something wrong, if I stirred up a controversy, then I would like to apologize for it.

CNN Host: Thank you for joining us today, Onel De Guzman.

Onel De Guzman: Thank you, and good-bye.

Onel De Guzman joined the chatroom on Monday, September 25, 2000 at 10:15 pm EDT. He participated with the assistance of a translator; provided a typist for him.

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National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) - Federal Bureau of Investigation

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